Dos Capas or “Barber Pole” Cigars

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Dos Capas (two wrappers) cigars are usually relegated to the novelty bin with giant cigars, culebras, and odd figurados like Drew Estates’ Egg and Fuente’s chili pepper cigar. They’re not the kind of cigar I go out of my way to smoke or collect, but I was digging through the cheapodor the other day and noticed a Sherpa Mystic Dos Capas lying quietly in the bottom layer. I thought I had another Dos Capas somewhere in there and, after a little more excavating, I found a Beethoven Duet from Armando Ramos. Both of these cigars have been lounging with the bundle smokes and yard gars for over a year now, so I thought it was time enough to fire them up and see what they have to say for themselves.

These are both toro sized cigars at 6 inches long and a 50 ring gauge. They’re similar in appearance, except that they appear to be rolled in different directions. (The direction is just a function of which side of the leaf – right or left – was used by the roller to finish the cigar.) But appearances aside, I was more interested in how the flavor might be affected. I was particularly interested in the Sherpa because the wrappers are fairly distinctive in aroma and flavor — the light leaf is Cameroon, and the dark is Brazilian maduro. The Beethoven uses Connecticut “claro and maduro,” which I take to mean CT Shade and Broadleaf maduro.

The Sherpa Mystic is made by Carlos Torano for K. Hansotia (of Gurkha fame) and employs a Dominican and Nicaraguan blend in the binder and filler. Sherpa is Hansotia’s bargain line, selling for around 50 bucks for a bundle of 25, so I wasn’t expecting to be amazed. What I found was a mild bodied well constructed cigar that starts out with a sweet and nutty flavor. I picked up just a tinge of the exotic spice that Cameroon often evokes. There was a pleasant sweetness to the smoke that reminded me more of a mild maduro than Cameroon; it may very well be that the maduro wrapper simply outplayed the Cameroon here. I noticed that there was no detectable difference in ash color; regardless of which leaf was burning, the ash was a very uniform light gray. Like other Sherpas I’ve smoked, the Mystic started to get bitter at the fifty yard line. At the two- thirds point, or shortly before that point, I got tired of it and decided to let it cool in preparation for a post-mortem examination of the wrapper.

From what I could tell (imperfectly, because I was looking at about three inches of a very dry wrapper leaf that kept cracking and crumbling in my fingers) the Cameroon appeared to be the inner wrap and the maduro was on the edge of the roll.

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The Beethoven Series is produced by Armando Ramos, but these cigars are not the first to bear the name or the stern visage of Ludwig van. The relic shown above is an artifact of the E.A. Kline cigar company, which operated in Tampa from 1903 to around 1909.

The Ramos line of cigars is somewhat newer than Kline’s, having been introduced in 2004. A fancy piano-shaped box for Beethoven cigars appeared in 2006, but I have yet to actually see one first hand. As mentioned before, the duet here is a two-part harmony performed by Connecticut Shade and Maduro Broadleaf, with binder and filler from Ecuador and Honduras.

This is a much more substantial cigar than the Sherpa Mystic. It is medium to full in body and exhibits perfect construction. The Beethoven Duet starts up with a very slight bite and quickly mellows to an earthy flavor with a sweet aroma. The ash on this cigar is so tight that I could have smoked the whole thing without tipping the ash but once, maybe twice. Towards the midpoint of the cigar it evolves a leathery core with sweet accents of caramel, and the smoke texture is buttery smooth. This cigar turned out to be a surprise treat. I picked it up for the sheer novelty of the wrapper, but I would buy more for the flavor and construction. I have to mention that this cigar spent over a year in the humidor after I purchased it, so the extra aging might have really paid off.

So, are Dos Capas cigars just gimmicks pure and simple, or is the combination of two different colored wrappers a legitimate blending technique? Both the Sherpa Mystic and the Beethoven Duet are decent cigars (though the Beethoven is far better, I think) and the flavor and aroma of both are basically mild maduro. The Sherpa shows a little of the spice from the Cameroon (though not much) and the Beethoven Duet has the creaminess of Connecticut Shade in addition to the maduro sweetness. So I have to say that in the final analysis both wrappers add a little something to the blend. So based on my rigorous scientific method of smoking two cigars and pronouncing my opinion, I’m going to wager that it’s more than just a gimmick. But as always, further testing is recommended!

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6 thoughts on “Dos Capas or “Barber Pole” Cigars

  1. I have always found Dos Capas to be more interesting to look at then to actually smoke. I couldn’t imagine someone walking around puffing away at one in public though, as it does seem rather gimmicky. I am glad you enjoyed the flavors though, your review has given me some motivation to seek one out.

  2. That has always been my impression as well. Personally I wouldn’t want to be seen outside the MGM Grand after the next Big Fight sucking on something that looks like a fat candy cane. But if you can ignore the appearance (a big IF) there might be something to the technique. Maybe.

    In any case, I thought the Beethoven Duet was a really good smoke. I think it was in the 3 dollar range. If you can find one, check it out!

  3. Haha, I could just imagine the looks you would get. What’s funny is that last night while watching some fireworks I saw someone smoking one. First time I had ever seen one out in the public. Funny timing.

  4. CAO’s new America “pinstripe” cigar is a variation on the barber pole style. There is a great demonstration video of how these are rolled posted on Youtube:

  5. The Camacho Liberty 07 line featured a Dos Capos, the first I have ever smoked. I enjoyed it so much in fact, that I am starting to seek out more similarly rolled cigars which is, in fact, how I stumbled across this review. I highly recommend trying the aforementioned Camacho.

  6. Does anyone know where I could buy the Sherpa Mystic? I bought some for my husband a while ago and he liked them but they seem to not be around anymore.

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